Mumbai Underworld

Just like the coin has two faces, every city has two sides; the fairer one which shows growth and development and the darker side which shows depletion and crime. Cities like Mumbai are infamous for its darker side, known to the entire world. Criminal activities happened in Mumbai even during the days of British Raj. Though in small measures, due to the fear of white rulers; but activities like gambling, trade of illegal liquor, coal and hooliganism were there.

Mumbai has been rightly called the City which never sleeps, because there are minds which just want to see the world die for their personal gains. Mumbai being an important place of trade during the British rule, was the prime location for smuggling and acted as the grey market. This attracted cons and criminals and they started making Mumbai their hub for illegal activities. This is how Mumbai Mafia, the Mumbai Underworld came into being. The time was early 40's, India's rule was being handed over and Mumbai's fate was being written by some unknown faces, who later came forward as the most dangerous ones India had ever seen.

Mumbai Underworld


Mumbai Mafia better known as the Underworld Mumbai is an organized body of criminals that originated from the meager smuggling of liquors and gambling. A Tamil nomad who came to Mumbai with his South Indian migrants started off as his team that gave shelter to those affected by the collapse of the textile industry, in a way encouraging environment for the crime that was already rooted in this city of Mumbai. The work that swelled to its prime in the 1970's was the Bombay port which was steadily rising and gave enough work to the thousands of workers. The heavy work and the extra money was a candy to the eyes of the workers who also indulged in small illegal activities.

Amongst them was a dockyard coolie who shifted to Mumbai from his village, known as Haji Mastaan. He was the head of a remotely active team amongst the workers who aimed at small upliftings and then shifted to emptying containers. Fancied by the Malabar Hill bungalows and cars, he came across Sukur Narayan who handled illegal smuggling on the Mumbai port and the Bhakia Port. Amongst his prominent members were Paul Patrick Newman, an Anglo-Goan who handled the custom officials and the paper work.

These activities were monitored from one of the lot of restaurants that opened alongside the port area. Haji Mastaan made a lot of money through smuggling of gold and spent it a lot in financing movies and managed to excel in the cinema business thus building precious relationships with stars like Dilip Kumar, Feroz Khan and Dharmendra. He was once arrested by the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities, but after the cases were disposed, he retired from the business of smuggling making Dawood as his right hand. Amongst the others who were involved with Haji Mastaan were Ayub Lala, Karim Lala and Yusuf Patel, a merchant who played dirty thus bringing the act in view of many. Karim lala was one of the strong competitors who emerged against Haji Mastaan.

Dawood, a son of a constable came as a successor to the don of Mumbai- Haji Mastaan. During this phase of rapid changes and the booming underworld, the empire of the dark side grew internationally when the deals were substituted from ingots to pounds and dollars. Those who preferred materialistic things than money were paid in the form of imported arms and ammunition.

The money was being invested in property and real estate too apart from the cinema business. Karim Lala and Haji Mastaan divided the business. Iqbal Mirchi was another prominent figure who joined hands with Lala along with a backup from the Pathan brothers Alamzed and Amirzada. Fancied by the income, Dawood seeked help from the Byculla Company and local gangs and segregated himself from his mentor Mastaan, carving out a kingdom of his own.

The illegal activities and gambling were on its prime and a huge sum of bribe was being paid to the port authorities and customs but the Underworld aspect came into limelight only when a port-worker was brutally assaulted.By the late 1980's, encounters and shootouts by the police put an end to more than 2 dozen gangsters.

The major turbulence arose when Dawood’s own group split creating another team by the name Chota Rajan on account of communal violence for financial gains. Chota Rajan's entry in the world of crime is said to have started when he used to sell movie tickets in black. In 1993, the Bombay riots and blasts created a situation when Dawood seeked refuge with international terrorists and Chota Rajan reached to the Hindu politicians leaving Mumbai in a state of fragmentation and religious radicalism. Currently, Dawood Abrahim is supposed to be living in Karachi or Dubai. Arun Gawli, another notorious gangster of the same league, on the other hand made his way into politics emerging out as one of the MLA from the Chinchpokli constituency.

Believed to have quit criminal activities, he is still looked upon as a gangland by the police who was even involved in taking the contract to kill Madhur Bhandarkar. Arun Gawli grew under the influence of Rama Nailk who killed Lala's nephew to make a way for Dawood to emerge as a don. Though this came as a failure, since the differences rose in the division of property. Rama Naik was killed in a police encounter later in 1988. After Rama, Arun Gawli boomed and established himself as the controller and ended up with a gangwar between his and Dawood's gang.

This gang war resulted in the loss of important members from both ends. Dawood's absence during this scenario saved him but CID was able to track Gawli and sent to jail in 1990 but it was only when GAwli was released that he entered in the field of politics with a party named "Akhil Bharatiya Sena".

Mumbai Underworld is still operational with its major business hand in the entertainment industry which is apparent through its Bollywood connections. Some of the gangs that have been approached by major celebrities to win a role or a ‘mere’ support are Chota Shakeel, Abu Salem Gang, Chota Rajan that are majorly involved in drug dealing and terrorist activities.Abu Salem who was born in a lower middle class family was unable to complete his studies after his father's death and landed up in Mumbai as a taxi driver after many hardships.

It was in Bombay that Abu Salem met Dawood and joined his gang. He had attempted to kill Bollywood film directors Rajiv Rai and Rakesh Roshan but he was unsuccessful in that. He has also been accused in the 1993 Bombay blasts as well as for the murder of filmmaker Gulshan Kumar. Abu Salem and his second wife Monica Bedi who is a Bollywood actress were handed to the Indian authorities by the Portugese authorities in November 2005. Currently Abu Salem is captivated in Arthur Jail in India under high security. He was also attacked by a member of Dawood's gang in the same jail where Kasab was also captured. This also gave birth to a terrorist link amongst the two.

Mumbai Underworld has always been a busy topic to debate on, surely it has inspired the lives of many several generations. Young boys with nothing to do and no where to go, for them joining the underworld was the most lucrative deal. Apart from the actual lives, Mumbai underworld is still showcase through movies and TV shows. Movies like "Satya", "Company", "Shootout at Khandala" and more have successfully depicted the reality. There are even critical acclaim books written on the mafia, like "From Dongri to Dubai” by S. Hussain Zaidi.

Currently though the situations are under control, one can never known when the things could explode. One can never forsee who can raise his head as the new kingpin, with this the Mumbai underworld will always remain a hidden land full of surprises.

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    Ab Tak Chhappan from Delhi 1121 Days ago

    One can imagine about Mumbai's underworld by watching "Ab Tak Chhappan" Movie and if you have to know about present scenario of Underworld then you should watch "Ab Tak Chhappan 2" :)

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